Why You Should Remember To Take Time For Yourself

Why You Should Remember To Take Time For Yourself

You don't need to be perfect.
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Recently I was asked to describe my biggest weakness. It was the first time I had been asked this question since I applied for a lifeguarding job when I was 15. Back then my answer was simple, obviously not tailored to a job interview, and stated with all of the eloquence and poise a taken-off-guard 15-year-old could come up with, "Uhhhh, I'm not that good at math." Not exactly the answer they were looking for I'm sure, but I got the job.

Since then I have been fortunate enough to have encountered experiences in my life that have shaped me into the person that I am and will become. Anyone's answer to the question of what his or her biggest weakness is is going to change throughout his or her life, strengths and weaknesses are variables that can depend on circumstances. My answer has certainly changed. This time around when I was asked to describe my biggest weakness my answer was arguably just as simple, but much broader: I put too much pressure on myself.

I am someone who is super goal-oriented and relies on concrete proof, like numbers or grades, to validate that I am on the way to these goals. It's great in that I maintain a high level of motivation to do my best. But terrible, in that it can go too far so fast.

What exactly is it that makes someone who used to be a relatively laid-back person turn into a giant ball of stress who gets a paper back with a grade of A- and immediately thinks "Where did I mess up? What could I have done better? I worked on this for two weeks and revisions for three extra days, but that clearly wasn't enough."

Let's take a look at everything that has been chilling in the back of my mind or has been said to me by an adult since entering an extremely academically challenging university:

"Make sure you have at least two to three internships or other forms of experience prior to graduating." "You should be applying for these in October instead of December if you really want to get a jump on things." "Also don't forget your actual homework, like the seven-page paper you have due for your writing intensive course Monday, and the other 10-page paper you have due in that class that you work really hard in but still don't really understand, that's also due Monday." "Don't fall behind in any of your readings either, make sure you're reading the textbook every night." "Take notes on all of the readings and turn in a summary at the beginning of each class." "You need to have at least three extracurricular activities, preferably where you hold leadership roles in addition to maintaining your GPA." "Also you'll be miserable without friends so make sure you're maintaining some kind of social life." "Make sure you're getting to the gym every day, it'll help reduce stress and keep you from getting sick, you need to take care of yourself." "The median GPA for the graduate school you're interested in is 3.77 but they also require breadth and depth of curriculum, you need to be challenging yourself more and working even harder." OKAY BUT WHEN DO I SLEEP? ("You should be getting eight-plus hours every night by the way.")

Having these instructions constantly in the back of your mind turns you into the person who is genuinely upset over the A-. And while that definitely always isn't the worst thing, we become so focused on what we need to be doing more of and what we need to be doing better that stress consumes us. I have friends that have literally forgotten to eat or neglected sleeping consecutive nights in a row because they want the A instead of the A-. THAT'S NOT HEALTHY. Yes, you should want to do your best, yes, numbers and grades are important to you future, but, no, they don't define you as a human being. That's what is too easy to forget as a college student in 2016. We forget to take time for ourselves now because we are too busy worrying about ourselves in the future and it's affecting our mental health.

Take time for yourself. It can be something as simple as going to bed an extra hour earlier one time instead of doing those extra notes in the library like you do every other night. Or something as silly as having an impromptu sleepover in your friend's dorm room after a stressful day/week just to hang-out and goof off.

All in all, yes, the grades are important. Yes, you should stay driven and organized. Yes, you should be unsatisfied with yourself if you know you didn't give your absolute best at that moment in time. But you should also remember that your best performance can vary depending on the day or week, state of your health, and what else you have going on. One of the most important things that you can do to help yourself succeed and maintain a healthy mental state is to take time for yourself every once in a while. If you don't you may find that you've pushed yourself too far and the stress will consume you.

Stay focused. Stay driven. But also choose to just take the nap sometimes.

Cover Image Credit: Sara Salvo

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A Senior's Last Week Of High School

The bittersweet end.
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Well, this is it. This is what we've worked so hard the last four years - who am I kidding - basically what seems like our whole lives for. This is the very last week we will set foot as a student in our high school's hallways. As most schools are getting ready to set their seniors free at last, it all begins to set in - the excitement, the anxiousness, and also the sentiment and nostalgia.

For seniors, the years since our first day as a freshman at the bottom of the high school totem pole have seemed endless, but as we look back on these last few weeks, we realize that this year in particular has gone by extraordinarily fast. It was just yesterday that we were sitting in our classrooms for the very first time, going to our 'last first' practice, and getting our first taste of the (very real) "senioritis". With all that's going on in our lives right now, from sports and clubs, finals, and the sought after graduation ceremony, it's hard to really sit down and think about how our lives are all about to become drastically different. For some it's moving out, and for some it's just the thought of not seeing your best friend on the way to fourth period English; either way, the feels are real. We are all in a tug of war with the emotions going on inside of us; everything is changing - we're ready, but we're not.

THE GOOD. Our lives are about to begin! There is a constant whirlwind of excitement. Senior awards, getting out of school early, parties, and of course Graduation. We are about to be thrust into a world of all new things and new people. Calling our own shots and having the freedom we have so desperately desired since the teenage years began is right around the corner. Maybe the best part is being able to use these new things surrounding you to grow and open your mind and even your heart to ideas you never could before. We get the chance to sink or swim, become our own person, and really begin to find ourselves.

Things we don't even know yet are in the works with new people we haven't even met yet. These friendships we find will be the ones to last us a lifetime. The adventures we experience will transform into the advice we tell our own children and will become the old tales we pass down to our grandkids when they come to visit on the weekends. We will probably hate the all night study sessions, the intensity of finals week, and the overpowering stress and panic of school in general, just like we did in high school... But it will all be worth it for the memories we make that will outlive the stress of that paper due in that class you absolutely hate. As we leave high school, remember what all the parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors are telling you - this are the best times of our lives!

THE BAD. The sentimental emotions are setting in. We're crying, siblings are tearing up, and parents are full-out bawling. On that first day, we never expected the school year to speed by the way it did. Suddenly everything is coming to an end. Our favorite teachers aren't going to be down the hall anymore, our best friends probably won't share a class with us, we won't be coming home to eat dinner with our families...

We all said we wanted to get out of this place, we couldn't wait, we were ready to be on our own; we all said we wouldn't be "so emotional" when the time came, but yet here we are, wishing we could play one more football game with our team or taking the time to make sure we remember the class we liked the most or the person that has made us laugh even when we were so stressed we could cry these past few years. Take the time to hug your parents these last few months. Memorize the facial expressions of your little sister or brother. Remember the sound of your dad coming home from work. These little things we take for granted every day will soon just be the things we tell our college roommate when they ask about where we're from. As much as we've wanted to get out of our house and our school, we never thought it would break our heart as much as it did. We are all beginning to realize that everything we have is about to be gone.

Growing up is scary, but it can also be fun. As we take the last few steps in the hallways of our school, take it all in. Remember, it's okay to be happy; it's okay to be totally excited. But also remember it's okay to be sad. It's okay to be sentimental. It's okay to be scared, too. It's okay to feel all these confusing emotions that we are feeling. The best thing about the bittersweet end to our high school years is that we are finally slowing down our busy lives enough to remember the happy memories.

Try not to get annoyed when your mom starts showing your baby pictures to everyone she sees, or when your dad starts getting aggravated when you talk about moving out and into your new dorm. They're coping with the same emotions we are. Walk through the halls remembering the classes you loved and the classes you hated. Think of the all great times that have happened in our high school years and the friends that have been made that will never be forgotten. We all say we hated school, but we really didn't. Everything is about to change; that's a happy thing, and a sad thing. We all just have to embrace it! We're ready, but we're not...

Cover Image Credit: Facebook

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The College Experience

A series telling the true experiences of modern day college students.

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Everyone tells you to prepare for the best years of your life.

They tell you to prepare for all of the new challenges and new opportunities.

They say that you will meet your future people in college.

What they don't tell you is how much it will hurt.

Seeing old friends disappear because you are no longer home.

Watching your grades fall because the class is too difficult to pass.

Hearing and witnessing your family struggle and you aren't able to be with them.

Seeing all of the adventures that others are going on while you are stuck in your dorm room with the same stack of papers you have been trying to finish for three days now.

They don't tell you how difficult the transition will be.

They especially don't tell you how hard it is to live with someone.

The best of friends can live together and then grow to hate each other.

Complete strangers will move in and never speak.

You'll find friends that are simply just your "writing friend" or "band friend".

Many of the labels from high school can sometimes stick around.

If you're not out drinking or clubbing, then people think you don't have a life.

College is great, but don't think that it will be easy.

You have to make things easy in order for things to happen.

You can't just go around doing whatever and expect things to work out.

It takes time and it takes commitment to succeed in life, and in college.

The best way to deal with it all, find someone!

Find someone that you can get coffee with and watch sports with.

Find someone to eat dinner and lunch with.

Find someone to study religion and math before the next test.

Find someone!

Find your someone, a friend or someone special, to help you make it through everything that life throws at you.

If I had that someone I might have been better off my first year.

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